Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish Traveller Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb’s world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain.
Twelve months later Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, ‘Uncle’ Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden’s other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn’t dare dream he’ll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.
Ouch. Wow. Garrett must own a double-edged pen. I found myself in equal agony and bliss during this novel. It hurt. But it hurt sooo good. I knew from the start the angst was going to batter me, but I counted on past experiences with Leigh’s stories to see me through to the three-hankie end. I was not let down.
I’m going to spill a little something. If you really don’t want to know, close your eyes quick! The blurb notes a slave and a master. Please understand this is not in the bedroom or a willful BDSM choice. Our young Dex is a victim of human trafficking. *blinks* Yeah, I was stunned as well. If you look at the statistics, you’ll see they are horrifying. Too often our society turns a blind eye to this form of modern-day slavery. I’m not surprised fearless Leigh pulls this sickening crime from the shadows and into the limelight but I found myself in awe of her yet again.
Dex was sold at a tender age and has lived daily nightmares ever since. The mental anguish and torment he has suffered, along with the physical and sexual abuse should have broken him. It nearly did. He is bound with invisible chains and convinced he will never be free. He is a shell of the man he’s meant to be. But he’s not an empty shell. His heart remains intact and continues to beat, forcing him into existence even when his mind betrays him. And then one summer he meets a man and is gifted with a glimpse of another life. A life beyond his wildest fantasies. This vision of Seb will all his strength and kindness and affections satisfies a hunger he was oblivious to. Though he may not know it, Seb ignites a spark of will in Dex.
A year later, their paths cross again and this time Dex realizes fate is trying to tell him something. He wants to listen…but the question is, can he?
I like everything about Garrett’s writing. I enjoyed visiting the quaint seaside village and then moving to London. The essence of this story lies within our two MC’s but the secondary cast is far from insignificant. And the food? Oh my! Seb in his fudge shop and then the rest of his delectable treats contributed a lovely dose of sweetness. You don’t have to be a foodie to appreciate the savvy kitchen know-how. There’s a lot of good stuff going on, but even more than that, here’s what I love….
Sometimes I feel like a passive reader and stories gently wash over me. And then I open one of Leigh’s books and I instantly become an active reader. Her words force physical reactions from me; I hold my breath with anticipation, I flinch from the pain and I melt from the tenderness. I immerse myself completely in the story and I’m bone weary by the end. I absolutely love it when this happens. Dex and Seb owned me. I was completely at their mercy. And though I was intoxicated on feels by the end, I grieved the final pages. What I wouldn’t give for more!
A messy read. My eyes were leaking, my nose was running and my mouth was watering. I was a straight up mess! And as I mentioned before, the abuse Dex suffers is hellacious but please don’t let this deter you from knowing and loving him. He is worth it. Ask Seb!
If you crave an emotional angst-ridden story, this tale about a boy with a beautiful heart fighting for a chance to live and love is the very thing you need.